The Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy.Paperback
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- Publisher: PROSPECT BOOKS
- Format: Paperback | 176 pages
- Dimensions: 138mm x 186mm x 16mm | 222g
- Publication date: 3 March 2012
- Publication City/Country: Blackawton
- ISBN 10: 1903018641
- ISBN 13: 9781903018644
- Edition: Revised
- Edition statement: Revised edition
- Sales rank: 240,552
This is a new edition of a classic of early 17th-century food writing. The book was written by the Italian refugee, educator and humanist Giacomo Castelvetro who had been saved from the clutches of the Inquisition in Venice by the English ambassador, Sir Dudley Carleton in 1611. When he came to England, he was horrified by our preference for large helpings of meat, masses of sugar and very little greenstuff. The Italians were both good gardeners, and had a familiarity with many varieties of vegetable and fruit that were as yet little known in England. He circulated his Italian manuscript among his supporters, dedicating it to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, herself a keen gardener and patron of literature. Gillian Riley's translation of this hitherto unpublished document has been recognised as being fluent, entertaining and accurate from its first appearance in 1989. Castelvetro takes us through the gardener's year, listing the fruit and vegetables as they come into season, with simple and elegant ways of preparing them. Practical instructions are interspersed with tender vignettes of his life in his native city of Modena, memories of his years in Venice and reminiscences of his travels in Europe. He writes of children learning to swim in the canals of the Brenta, strapped to huge dried pumpkins to keep them afloat; Venetian ladies ogling passers-by from behind screens of verdant beanstalks; sultry German wenches jealously hoarding their grape harvest; and his intimate chats with Scandinavian royalty about the best way to graft pear cuttings and discomfort the Pope. English cooking was on a cusp. It had yet to absorb the new ways of Europe, although some of the best practice of Dutch and French gardening was having its effect on our diet. But there were still many new styles of cooking and recipes to absorb, as well as new plants to enjoy (for instance broccoli), and new ways to set them out on the table. This treatise anticipates many of the changes that were to come about over the next one hundred years. Castelvetro urges that we should eat more salads with the same enthusiasm that was evinced by John Evelyn in his book on salad-stuff of 1699. This edition is printed in two colours, has a graceful typography (using the Galliard typeface) and generous layout, and is equipped with a knowledgeable and informative introduction by the translator.
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Translator and editor Gillian Riley has become England's chief interpreter of the history of Italian cooking. Her Oxford Companion to Italian Food (2008) has been widely praised, and her books about food in art have commanded much support.